[OSGeo-Discuss] Next 5 years for OSGeo

Eric Wolf ebwolf at gmail.com
Sun Oct 4 08:56:41 PDT 2009

As Ian said, the Universities are stuck in a vicious circle. Believe it or
not, faculty do try to teach a GIScience that is independent of any
particular software package. But the perspective ends up being that ESRI
provides both the tools and teaching materials in a consistent manner. If
the faculty is focusing on software-independent ideas, then using the most
readily available software makes their (and their lab managers' jobs
What is sorely missing is a suite of teaching materials for FOSS4G. Most of
the books for FOSS4G are written for programmers. If you've ever gotten near
a GIS course homed in a Geography Department, you know that the students
taking the course are decidedly not programmers. (In fact, this is also how
ESRI entrenches their software - by enable a massive array of functionality
without relying on actual programming).

I surely don't need another project right now, but I've been trolling to
find a co-author to create a cookbook-style Python geoprocessing book that
uses GDAL/OGR and other FOSS libraries. This would be considered a text for
a fairly advanced GIS course.

As for teaching labs, I think we are developing a good experience-base with
the OpenGeo LiveDVD. I used that DVD for the workshop I lead at GIS in the
Rockies on GeoServer. It worked brilliantly for a simple workshop like that.
What's missing is the ability to save the state. University labs frequently
require multiple sessions to get through and build on one another - unlike
the OpenGeo GeoServer workshop that can be cranked out in 45 minutes and is

Maybe we should focus on a GIS on a stick product rather than a LiveDVD?


Eric B. Wolf                    New! 720-334-7734
USGS Geographer
Center of Excellence in GIScience
PhD Student
CU-Boulder - Geography

On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 8:54 AM, Ian Turton <ijturton at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 10:32 AM, Peter Batty <peter at ebatty.com> wrote:
> > I think that programs to encourage greater use of OSGeo products in
> > universities would be a great idea too - ESRI dominate in this area at
> the
> > moment, but this would be another way to get the word out to a broader
> > audience.
> Currently universities are locked in a vicious circle with GIS
> software in that the students demand we teach them on ESRI software
> because that's what employers want and employers use ESRI software as
> that is what the universities are teaching the students on.
> The fact that ESRI are giving the software away for free (or nearly
> free) doesn't help. I'd love to teach more (undergraduate) students
> with FOSS but first I have to find technician time to install the
> software on all the lab machines in the university (which is where
> ArcMap is provided) for just one course (and any way why can't I use
> Arc like everyone else will be the question). Of course we're supposed
> to be teaching techniques not software packages but you still spend
> most of your time sorting out the software issues.
> So *I* think that universities are a lost cause and we should focus on
> high schools - but in many states ESRI has got there before us and has
> signed deals with the state to provide arc in schools at no cost to
> the school. When I query teachers as to how the kids will do their
> homework they usually shrug and point out it's too hard for them to do
> on their own or that they can use the school library. May be
> elementary schools are the winnable battlefield?
> Ian
> --
> Ian Turton
> These are definitely my views and not Penn States!
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